This isn't really so much a find as it is a cautionary tale.
And I will start by saying I know, I know, engagement rings aren't for everyone. But if you have a ring that belonged to your grandmother, or earrings you got for high school graduation, or any piece of jewelry, really, that you want to take good care of, this all applies.
Anyway. More than a year ago now, on a warm sunny Saturday, I lost the sapphire in my engagement ring.
I was running errands with my mom-in-law, and when we got back in the car at Trader Joe's I put my hand on the steering wheel...
...and nearly had a heart attack. No sapphire. NO SAPPHIRE. The sapphire I'd worn for 16 years and rarely took off, even during pregnancy, was gone. That was a bad, bad day.
Then the wrangling with the insurance company commenced.
We had to go to one of "their" jewelers to get the ring appraised and look at replacement stones.
Then we found out the agent hadn't actually written a proper additional rider as we'd asked him to, he'd just lumped my engagement ring in with the rest of household stuff. Coverage = almost nothing.
Ouch, is all I can say. I felt so bad, on so many levels. I cried ugly tears more than once.
The jeweler we used in Ann Arbor had some OK sapphires, but none of them were close to my original in color, and the person we talked to said the color I wanted would be a lot more expensive than we'd thought. Like, 3x as much (sapphires get more expensive the more true-blue they are). After that discouraging appointment, we set up a savings plan and decided to tackle the whole issue again in a few months. At that point we realized we were looking at a big move in the near future, so we put the ring even further on the back burner. Besides budget priorities, Jon and I started thinking about how we were moving to within shouting distance of our original jeweler in Iowa. Maybe, we said to each other, maybe once we're in Chicago we can go back to see Roger and have him fix it.
So for a long time, my ring looked like this:
Last Thanksgiving the stars (and road trips) finally aligned and we went to see Roger at Expressions in Davenport.
Expressions has been around for a long time and is the go-to jeweler for some family members and friends. They're local and independently owned, and Roger remembered us when we called and asked him for help (he was the one who worked with Jon to put my ring together originally). They had me ship my ring to them, and when we showed up the day before Thanksgiving they had 3 loose sapphires ready look at. They were all the same, beautiful cornflower blue of my original stone, and sized and shaped right for the setting.
All we had to do then was pick our favorite of the three, and I left my wedding set to be worked on while we headed off to Thanksgiving. Annabel offered me a loaner for the interim period:
About a week later I got my rings back by courier:
Looks ready for another 16, doesn't it? (please excuse my alligator skin)
I'm so grateful to have my ring back the way it was when Jon gave it to me. Roger and his staff offered the following advice to make it a lot less likely that I have to do this again:
1. Find a local, reputable jeweler (NOT A MALL STORE*, ordered Roger) and take your pieces in for regular cleaning. The staff at Expressions suggested I go every 3 months. The jeweler won't charge you, and if you do need to have any work done down the line you'll already have a relationship with them. I was actually really good about this until we had kids, and jewelers were always happy to help.
2. Use specialized jewelry insurance. Expressions recommends Perfect Circle insurance, which I found to be very reasonably priced. They only handle jewelry, so they understand the market. And if you need to make a claim you can work with your preferred jeweler, not someone off a short list from your household insurance company. If you want to stick with your regular insurance agent, that's OK, but go in person to talk with them about riders for specific pieces. The jewelry coverage lumped into regular household coverage won't cut it.
3. Update your appraisals every 2-3 years. When the economy went south and gold prices went north, the appraised value of my setting shot up too. Heck, even the little pair of sapphire stud earrings that Jon got me for my birthday about 10 years ago have quadrupled in value. So get things appraised regularly and update your insurance coverage.
*My stone slipped out because the prongs had worn down over the years and needed to be retipped. Every setting, regardless of type, has its weakness/wear point. A local, certified jeweler has the training and ability to diagnose issues and make repairs on site. If you need help finding someone, try starting with the American Gem Society directory.
A couple of weeks ago I wandered through the Field Museum's gemstone exhibit and found this:
And I'm back to wearing my own rare, precious stone every day.